Rafa Jimenez, Vice President of Product at SECUTIX, shares his thoughts on AI's impact on the event ticketing industry, the immediate opportunities, how to think differently and build solutions that help navigate the ensuing challenges as we prepare for the future with AI technology.
The recent explosion of generative AI - with applications ranging from chatbots to image generation, and soon the launch of video creation - is not merely a matter of technology advancements but a transformative force that is here to stay.
For the ticketing sector, the rise of generative AI offers exciting opportunities for a better fan experience. On the other hand, it brings new challenges as fraudsters look to use it to their own advantage.
A valuable tool for marketing events
The future of AI lies in its ability to identify patterns and trends across audio, pictures, and video. This will help event organisers gain valuable insights into their customer preferences, behaviour, and demographics. This real-time data can support the marketing teams to adjust pricing, products and commercialisation strategy on the fly.
Another major shift lies in the communication with the systems; organisers can now request reports in natural language, and fans can directly ask their apps for what they need. This paves the way for the best form of 'pull marketing', where organisers can cease sending blanket offers and fans no longer have to wade through irrelevant marketing messages.
Improve event security
By analysing real-time data from surveillance cameras, AI algorithms can detect potential threats, monitor crowd density, and optimize security measures. This ensures a safe and secure environment for attendees, contributing to an overall positive customer experience.
Better customer experience
Advances in AI technology have led to chatbots that are so sophisticated, that they've passed the Turing Test, which investigates whether people can detect if they are interacting with a human or a machine.
These large language model chatbots will soon provide real-time audio and video interactions, offering ticket buyers an AI customer support service that is patient, highly informed, and immediate. There will be no more waiting in line for a customer service representative to become available.
Ticket fraudsters will use AI
As AI advances, so too do the tools available for committing ticket fraud.
The ability to produce deep fakes will significantly enhance their fraudulent activities, leading to an exponential growth in deception. This includes plausible scenarios where a ticketholder might receive a message from a seemingly official account, when it is actually a fake video message with instructions for a ticket exchange. This could result in the loss of a ticket for the genuine ticketholder.
Public backlash to enhanced security measures
The knee-jerk reaction to such fraudulent activities often leads to enhanced security measures, such as facial recognition or other intrusive ID methods. However, these might not fundamentally solve the problem and lead to opposition from the public.
Initially, these heightened security measures seem like a good idea, but they only provide incremental improvements that are quickly eroded away and do not stop fraudulent actors. The unfortunate side effect is the invasion of privacy of the average ticket purchaser and attendee. These measures, albeit short-sighted, are often accepted under the pretence of 'protection', even if they contradict privacy regulations like GDPR.
TOP TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE WITH AI
Learn to interact with AI effectively
Just like learning to search with search engines, we need to adapt our mental models and learn how to interact with large language models. We need to learn how to ask the right questions and leverage the capabilities of AI effectively. This is what people are calling ‘prompt engineering’ – which today means learning how to frame requests and/or ask the right questions of the AI chatbot.
Go beyond the AI arms race
Using AI to combat ticket fraud often incites a relentless arms race between event organisers and unscrupulous scalpers.
You never win an arms race, as adversaries always have significant incentives and resources to breach event security. Regardless of how cutting-edge your AI defences may be, there's always a better one in the hands of potential fraudsters.
The future calls for innovative solutions that go beyond traditional bot protection. For us at SECUTIX, the answer lies in creating a direct and transparent relationship between event organisers and real fans. Within such a safe space, genuine fans will be protected and rewarded. Of course, some think this is just wishful thinking and an unachievable goal, but they are wrong. It can be done. We are already building the foundations of a trusted ticketing ecosystem with our clients in three ways: the transition to controlled loop platforms; the creation of token-gated communities; and the use of digital native assets:
- Embrace Controlled Loop Platforms: Event organisers should adopt a mobile-first approach to transform smartphones into the central hub for fan interactions. This could be an official ticketing app with stringent customer identification measures, making mobile phone numbers the primary sign-up key. Communication would be facilitated through direct push notifications, minimizing the risk of fans falling prey to fraudulent activities on social media, or emails that are easily created and compromised.
- Establish Token-Gated Communities: Verifying previous event attendees through a Trusted Attendee Protocol (TAP) can help prioritize genuine fans over bots during ticket sales. Token-gated communities encourage a self-policing culture and peer-to-peer engagement, fostering trust among fans and helping keep malicious bots at bay.
- Leverage Digital Native Assets: Adopting digital native assets will also contribute significantly to securing ticketing operations. Unique identifiers such as Universally Unique IDentifiers (UUIDs) on relational databases can act as a secure, scalable layer for event operations. Simultaneously, a public, decentralised blockchain can identify, reward and engage with fans - those loyal fans who frequently attend events - in a more direct, peer-to-peer way through digital assets. These digital native assets can also serve as souvenirs or Proof of Attendance tokens, allowing true fans to display their passion and commitment.
Educate and engage the public
However you choose to use AI, bringing fans along on this journey is essential, educating and consulting with them while respecting their privacy and personal space. Building a community of informed, engaged fans can help fortify the security of event ticketing and restore transparency and trust.
The future landscape of the ticketing industry is undoubtedly complex, with AI technologies further blurring the lines between reality and deception. However, by embracing these strategies and preparing for the challenges ahead, we can navigate the future, protect fans and events alike, and ensure a richer and more secure ticketing experience.